KIGALI - Police on Tuesday arrested thirteen board members and inspectors of Abadehemuka Cooperative over alleged irregularities in trading of locally produced foodstuffs.
This was announced by the Director of the Criminal Investigation Department, Chief Superintendent Joseph Costa Habyara. All those arrested are based in the City of Kigali.
Habyara told The New Times this week that the suspects are being held at Remera Police Station pending further investigations. The suspects were last evening interrogated at Nyarugenge prosecution.
The president of the cooperative, Jean de Dieu Ngabonziza, blamed the increment in prices of Irish Potatoes on the illegal taxes levied on them by local cooperatives.
One of the three ladies in the group, Apoline Nyinawase, told this reporter that she had been temporarily released to take care of her baby. Her husband is also among those arrested.
Senior Government officials on Monday announced that a probe had been launched into the middlemen’s cooperative, and blamed the group for levying a tax that was long scrapped long ago.
Habyara accused the suspects of imposing unlawful directives to farmers, thereby interfering with the market forces of demand and supply. The cooperative acts as a middleman between farmers and consumers of mainly Irish Potatoes.
Commerce Minister Monique Nsanzabaganwa and her Agriculture counterpart Christophe Bazivamo on Monday met with several officials and attributed price hikes of certain foodstuffs, particularly potatoes, to Abadahemuka Cooperative.
A public toll-free hotline is also due to be created for people to share information. Abadahemuka was barred by the Ministry of Commerce from trading in other foodstuffs apart from Irish potatoes.
Currently a kilo of potatoes costs about Frw55 from upcountry farmers and sells at Frw100 to the final consumer in the City of Kigali.
However, there were unconfirmed reports yesterday that the move to halt the alleged irregularities in the trading of certain foodstuffs had resulted in the lowering of the prices of the commodities in question.
“The free flow of foodstuffs to the market after removal of trade barriers like the one of Abadahemuka cooperative will ensure favourable consumer prices,” Nsanzabaganwa said early this week.
Rwanda has not experienced any food shortage at a time when there is a global food crisis.